When I was growing up, my mom was in charge of the regular, daily cooking. She set out boxes of cereal in the morning before school or quickly scrambled an egg or two, made miles of peanut butter and honey sandwiches and prepared baked chicken legs and hamburger scramble until her mind numbed from the repetition. We took her meal preparation completely for granted, assuming that she would always continue to produce food on demand.
When my dad cooked, it was an occasion. He chipped in during holidays and could often be cajoled into making weekend breakfasts. Making pancakes and waffles were his particular specialty and Raina and I would beg for them every Saturday morning. He always made the mix from scratch, using a formula he had created (based on the pancake recipe in the turquoise-covered, 1971 edition of the Joy of Cooking). He was motivated to create his own mix after he spent a stint working as a short order cook at IHOP the 1970’s and, after churning out stack after mediocre stack of unsubstantial pancakes, decided he could make something far, far better. By the time I was born, he had discovered the wonders of Honey Toasted Wheat Germ and the pancake mix was on its way.
The first few cooking skills I acquired as a child came from standing at my dad’s elbow as he mixed up pancake or waffle batter. He taught me the proper way to whisk eggs and how to gently fold the dry ingredients into the egg/milk/oil mixture. I would stand next to him at the stove and watch as he greased the griddle with a carefully folded square of paper towel. He would point to the bubbles forming on the surface of the pancakes, and told me that they were ready to flip when the bubbles popped and didn’t close back up. Most importantly, when it came to flipping pancakes, you had to approach it with confidence. Worry or uncertainty would land a pancake on the edge of the griddle or on top of another cake. To this day, I hear his calm voice in my head when I turn my pancakes.
These days, I make pancakes or waffles in his style at least once a month. I nearly always have a batch of mix blended up and stashed in the back of the fridge (wheat germ gets rancid quickly and cool storage slows it down). I’ve made a few changes to the mix, adding some toasted millet and using all whole wheat flour. These days, I like to eat my pancakes with jam and plain yogurt, although I do also have a fondness dark maple syrup. Here’s how I make the mix these days…
Marisa’s version of Mo’s Famous Pancakes
2 cups whole wheat flour
3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 cups honey toasted wheat germ (regular toasted wheat germ can be substituted if you can’t find the honey stuff)
1 cup cornmeal
3/4 cup cane sugar
2 tablespoons salt
3 tablespoons baking powder
Mix it all together and store in an airtight jar or container. To use, whisk together three eggs, 1 cup of milk and 2 tablespoons oil or melted butter. Fold in two cups of mix*. If it seems to thick, add a bit more milk. Heat a griddle to medium heat (you don’t want it to be too hot, or the pancakes will be burnt on the outside and uncooked on the inside) and oil it lightly. Cook pancakes until they bubbles pop and stay open and then flip. Cook just another minute or two on the other side. Serve with maple syrup (real only, please), jam and yogurt or honey.
*It’s at this point that I add about 1/3 a cup of toasted millet. Toasting it is easy, just spread it on a small baking sheet and bake for about 8 minutes at 350 degrees. Let it cool a little and then fold it into the batter. It adds a wonderful, nutty crunch.
Loved the story about your dad. Love pancakes. Love mornings like that. Yummy post.
wow these pancakes sound amazing! thanks for sharing the lovely childhood story and recipe.
It is hard to imagine any way I could be more proud of my little girl. Pretty fabulous, she.
i love that picture!
i am so glad that that piece of paper still exists! i always feel like a pancake elitist wherever i eat breakfast. There is just no point to ordering pancakes. i’m fine with that.
man i could eat a stack of them right now 🙂
We salute your Dad!
What a great story. We actually can relate to your Dad’s feelings to seeing all those mediocre pancakes being served…and we full heartedly relate to your story and experience with learning how to make pancakes with your Dad.
We specifically created Daddy Cakes® Pancake Mix because we wanted better pancakes…then we made them and all of our neighbors wanted our “Daddy Cakes Pancake Batter”. Right now we make 9 different flavors:
Glamorous Gingerbread, Sinful Cinnamon, Bountiful Buckwheat Buttermilk, Better Batter Buttermilk, Sensuous Strawberry Sensation, Criminal Chocolate Chip, Vivacious Vanilla, Witty Whole Wheat, Blueberrry Bonanza Blast
We use real fruit and great ingredients making all of the “Just Add Water” – great pancakes made nice and simple.
Here is what one store owner commented just today:
“We have had great success with Daddy Cakes at Telluride Panhandler.Our customers are attracted to the brightly colored and whimsical can,but they return because of the fluffy pancakes! Anne and Tom Connor – Telluride Panhandler”
Another customer sent us this comment as well: “We just finished our pancake breakfast thank you very much! We served 10 people and have a couple left over. The chocolate chip ones were a hit with the kids (even one of them that was saying he didn’t like chocolate chip ones, with his mouth full of one of your chocolate chip ones). Of course he was a bit surprised when we told them what he was eating! The adults went for the buckwheat ones and our friends that are with us usually don’t eat pancakes for breakfast (me too actually) because of the severe crash an hour after. They are both really bad and feel sick usually. You will be pleased to know that this did not happen with your wholesome recipe! My friends husband thought they were a little too expensive but we did the math on how many they fed and it was decided per person it really isn’t expensive. Now I want to try some of the other flavors so I will need to place an order. Do I just order on line and do you have any favorites? What about the wheat and the gingerbread?”
If you want to try some great pancake mix, but you don’t want to start from scratch, then get some Daddy Cakes® Pancake Mix.
Have Fun! (and keep enjoying those great pancakes)